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Volunteers keep the theater running

By Staff | Oct 25, 2013

Chris Bieri/PCT Volunteers have been the lifeblood of the Lyric Theatre since it reopened but Friends Of The Lyric board members are concerned they are relying on too many of the same volunteers to work shifts over the weekends.

Mandy Kuhnhenn has been taking her children to movies in Rugby since they were in pajamas.

Now ages 5 and 7, her son, Seth, and daughter, Ryli, are regulars at the Lyric Theatre’s weekend showings.

Kuhnhenn wants to keep it that way and has been one of the theater’s most active volunteers.

“I knew I wanted it there for my kids to be able to go to the movie here,” Kuhnhenn said.

Like Kuhnhenn, Sara Radomski has been a prolific volunteer at the theater, working with groups through her work at Rugby Manufacturing, as well as friends and family members.

“I got involved more from the work side of things at Rugby Manufacturing,” she said. “We’re trying to get more involved in the community. Definitely, two of my daughters volunteer quite a bit. They have enjoyed it. I was never going to say no; it was a great family thing to do too. I’ve actually worked with my co-workers, my kids and sisters, even. It’s a fun thing to do. It’s busy. That hour and a half (during the movie) goes fast. It’s a fun time to get together and give back to the community.”

Between work, friends and family, Radomski has volunteered around 10 times.

But Friends of the Lyric community board members fear they may be leaning too heavily on some of the same people to volunteer.

“It’s been going really, really good, however, we’re starting to feel it and it’s only been 6 1/2 months,” said Sue Blessum, who along with Terri Jacobson, Holly Niemi and Shelley Block, coordinate most of the work shifts at the theater.

“We only know so many people, so we’d like to put the emphasis on people calling us. Then they can pick a time that’s convenient for their schedule.”

The theater takes 27 hours to operate each weekend: three people working three hour-shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Board members of the Friends of the Lyric praised Sue Steinke efforts of handling many of the details of the day-to-day operations of the theater.

Jacobson is working on putting a website together with a schedule so people can see which shifts have been filled and which have not.

Kuhnhenn said once she started doing the volunteer shifts, she thought of the theater in a different way.

“It’s worth it,” she said. “You start to volunteer and you take pride in the building and its success.”

Radomski’s family uses the theater on a weekly basis, so the volunteer shifts are an investment in the community.

“For us, it’s family,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of things, to do in the community and it’s one of the things and it’s something that everyone looks forward to. It’s important to our family and that’s why we got involved as much as we did.”

Kuhnhenn said the theater allows for people from kids to senior citizens to stay in town for entertainment.

“We’ve been out of town to go to movies, it’s more expensive,” she said. “Why not have more things in Rugby and be a part of that? I think we definitely have a community full of people that can support it.”

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